Small business owners need to build marketing strategies that boost ROI without breaking a limited budget. Between organic traffic-building SEO and paid Google Ads to increase your visibility, which method reigns supreme? Read more below.
SEO, Search Engine Optimization, is the process of designing your site’s content and code to increase your ranking for search terms on a search engine.
Since over 92% of internet searches happen on Google, most SEO best practices revolve around increasing your ranking there, though efforts made typically improve your rankings elsewhere, too.
Consider the very last time you searched for something on Google search. Did you choose the top link Google gave you? Or perhaps, the second or third? If you said yes, you’re not alone – 31.7% of users click the top link on Google’s results pages.
Grabbing that top spot pays off, and to get there, you need to use Google SEO.
Google uses an incredibly advanced algorithm to determine which websites best fit each search term best based on your website’s quality, performance, popularity, and relevancy.
Google wants to give users the highest quality search experience. Therefore, most SEO practices focus on creating content that interests people and using keywords to help Google determine which terms are relevant for you.
Google Ads is the most popular paid advertising platform that allows businesses to buy ads in high-traffic spots above the search results and on partner sites. Google Ads are part of a category of PPC, or paid-per-click advertising, in which your ads display for free – you only pay when someone clicks the ad.
There are 3 types of Google Ads:
Do Google Ads help your SEO?
These two marketing strategies are interconnected but separate – ads won’t help your SEO, and vice versa. Look below to see our complete comparison of Google Ads to SEO.
Google Ads’ pricing is very straightforward – you set a total spend budget and customize the bidding strategy costs to help you compete with other businesses for the same ad spot. Most beginner ad budgets should start around $15 to $65 CAD daily to see results.
That works out to a monthly ad budget of $450 to $1950, though we don’t like to see less than $1000 for optimal results.
SEO costs, on the other hand, are indirect. If you perform SEO yourself, it’s free, though unless you’re a marketing whiz with technical SEO expertise, you’re unlikely to see the best results.
You’ll want to pay to build an SEO-friendly website and then invest in a continued content program.
Remember what we said about relevancy – it matters to Google. If you create an optimized website, it may perform well for a while, but you’ll watch your traffic slowly drop off. Google wants to show its users up-to-date content, and for that, you’ll need to create new content and update the old regularly.
The Google SEO cost of building a small optimized website is around $12,000, though the SEO aspects account for about 30%, with the rest resulting from coding and web design costs. So you’ll definitely pay more up-front. The ongoing costs of maintaining and creating new content range from $200 to $700 a month, depending on how much content you need.
Winner: Up front, SEO will cost you more, but once your website is built, SEO is hundreds of dollars less a month.
Paid ads always appear above the #1 organic result, which means they’re always the first thing a user sees after hitting the “Search” button. There are typically four top ad results displayed in a row, followed by SEO-earned results.
10 organic search results appear below the ads. But, many people skim right by the ads and go straight to the websites they know earned their rank because they deem them as more trustworthy.
Winner: Google Ads will always have the top spots, so they’re the champs here.
The essential factor in your choice is which one works better. Choosing the cheaper solution only makes sense if you’re not sacrificing your revenue as a result. Sometimes you have to pay more to get more, but that’s not always the case with marketing strategy – balance your costs with your results!
How can you measure SEO and ads’ success?
The two best KPIs, key performance indicators, of how well your SEO or ads work are CTR and CVR.
The CTR, click-through rate, is the percentage of users that see a link or ad to your site and click it.
The CVR, conversion rate, is the percentage of users that see your link or ad, click on it, and successfully convert. Typical conversions are buying your products or services, signing up for email lists, and more – it’s the reason you want site visitors in the first place.
Let’s compare Google Ad and SEO KPIs.
The average CTR is 31.7% for the top SEO search rank, 24.7% for #2, and 18.6% for #3.
Paid Google Ads see a meager CTR of 5% – one-sixth of the top SEO spot.
The average CVR for Google Ads is 3.75%, compared to around 2.5% for users sourced from SEO.
It’s clear that more users click on organic search links than paid, but of the “hooks” that Google Ads get, more of them turn into actual sales.
Winner: Tie. Both can see vital KPIs and returns on investment.
Paid search ads start appearing almost immediately after you click start on your campaign. SEO efforts can create fantastic results, but it takes time for your website to climb Google’s ranks.
When you need to reach consumers fast to cash in on rapidly changing market trends and reach them when purchase intent is the highest, Google Ads are your best friend. But when you stop running your ads, you stop seeing results – they’re short-lived.
SEO helps your website gain real popularity and stay in the top ranks over time, helping you build a strong, loyal customer following and become an authority in your industry. So even if you stopped doing SEO today, you could ride out great content for months or even years before you start seeing traffic drops.
Winner: Paid ads are best for short-term goals, while SEO can keep you relevant.
Side-by-side, both Google Ads and SEO have some great features that can help your business succeed.
Since both options have strengths and weaknesses, your best strategy? Use both for a unified marketing approach.
Here’s how SEO and Google Ads work together:
We’re one of the most experienced SEO companies in Hamilton & Toronto, specializing in paid Google Ad campaigns and SEO-building practices. Click here and contact us for a free SEO & Google Ad quote!